Cookie Swaps and Cool Yules

Daily Austin food news

Callie Speer goes into battle, Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill expands, and more morning bites.

Callie Speer (photo courtesy of Geraldine's)

Geraldine's pastry chef Callie Speer and her Mistletoes of Mayhem team were eliminated from Christmas Cake Wars last night, one week shy of the $50,000 finale. Last night's episode focused on the 50th anniversary of the animated holiday special A Charlie Brown Christmas and the guest judge was Lindsey Schulz, granddaughter of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. Though Speer's team emerged victorious from the preliminary stocking stuffer challenge with a clever rendition of Snoopy's dog house decorated for Christmas, their second effort and tasting sample were not embraced by the judges, so they came home without the cash. Meanwhile, watching competitors struggle as they rolled and decorated Yule Log cakes on last night's episode of the Great Holiday Baking contest made me wish I'd somehow been able to enter that competition. A Yule Log with espresso meringue mushrooms is a specialty I can still whip up during the holidays.

Guests at the Les Dames d'Escoffier Christmas cookie swap party enjoyed pizza hot from the wood-fired oven when Bola Pizza owners Christian and Jamie Bowers shared samples of their new sausage and pepperoni pizzas at the party. Christian Bowers reports he's making the sausage in-house using Niman Ranch pork and the pepperoni is from Applegate Farms. Look for Bola's new sausage and pepperoni frozen pizzas in stores in early 2016.

Look for business partners Larry Perdido and Chuck Smith to open two more Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill outlets in 2016 – one in the Round Rock area and the other at the Belterra development along Hwy 290 West near Dripping Springs.

Hot on the heels of their recent win at the World Whiskey Masters (WWM) in New York, Balcones Distilling of Waco received impressive recognition at the Spirit Masters Awards in London last week. Balcones was named Grand American Whiskey Master 2015 and also brought home the American Whiskey Taste Master 2015 for their Texas Blue Corn Special Release Bourbon. These awards were based on the accumulation of points garnered in individual blind taste test WWM spirits competitions over the past year. “To be recognized at this level of competition and by impartial judges is a real honor,” said Balcones head distiller Jared Himstedt in a press release. “We are continually humbled that our hard work and passion translates into a world-class spirit that people love.” Unfortunately, this wildly popular spirit is currently sold out, but a new batch of Texas Blue Corn Special Release Bourbon is expected to hit the market in 2016 after Balcones moves into their new larger facilities.

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